12 Best Car Chases in Movie History

Few movie scenes are more entertaining than a classic car chase. Picture this: speeding cars weaving in and out of city traffic in a riveting dance with death and danger.

These scenes comprise some of cinematic history’s most riveting moments. While we couldn’t include every chase seen in every movie, here are twelve of our favorites that have stood the test of time.

1. Smokey and the Bandit II (1980)

Smokey and the Bandit II (1980)
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Burt Reynolds is at it again in the sequel of the original movie. Bo Bandit spends much of the film evading the efforts of Sheriff Buford T. Justice (played by Jackie Gleason).

The best car chase in the movie involves Bandit weaving his Trans Am through the base of a wooden rollercoaster as the sheriff fails miserably to catch up. Bandit eventually gets away, leaving the rollercoaster in a pile of scrap wood.

2. The Italian Job (2003)

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

The ending car chase scene in The Italian Job might be the coolest chase in history. It features a riveting parade of souped-up Mini Coopers throughout the city and the subway.

Edward Norton’s character follows in a helicopter, but the Minis are too elusive. The scene was so iconic that it helped re-introduce the Mini Cooper into the American economy.

3. The French Connection (1971)

Image Credit: 20th Century-Fox.

In this epic car chase, Gene Hackman steals a civilian’s car to pursue the bad guy across Brooklyn. Hackman follows the villain as he takes hostages on the train. The scene is action-packed as it weaves in and out of the traffic on the streets and underneath the train, providing edge-of-the-seat tension.

4. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

In this film in the Mission: Impossible franchise, Tom Cruise pulls out all the stops. True fans know that Cruise does his own stunts, and in Fallout, he doesn’t hold back.

Cruise zips through Paris as he is pursued by a dozen cops trying to take him down. Quick cuts and many close calls make this scene one that keeps you bracing for the crash that never comes.

5. The Blues Brothers (1980)

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Jake and Elwood Blues are on a mission from God, and nothing will stop them from raising money to pay the property tax on the orphanage where they were raised. Their epic car chase through a mall shows their dedication to their cause. They find themselves pursued by neo-Nazis, angry country musicians, and, among others, the state police. After the wild chase, the brothers’ car falls apart on the street in front of the Cook County Tax Assessor’s Office.

The scene closed streets and set records by crashing around 13 different “Bluesmobiles” to get the epic chase on camera.

6. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

It’s hard to pick a specific scene in this film because it’s essentially a 2-hour car chase. Imperator Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron), with the help of Max (Tom Hardy), steals the War Rig, a high-powered armored semi-truck. The antagonist, Immortan Joe, and his ensemble of War Boys pursue them across an open desert.

High-octane crashes and assaults on the War Rig dominate the movie as Joe and his War Boys attempt to attack Furiosa and Max. This thrill ride will elevate your blood pressure and make you clench your fists for a solid two hours.

7. The Rock (1996)

Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Who wouldn’t sign up to see a car chase involving Sean Connery in a Hummer being chased by Nicholas Cage in a Ferrari? It’s power against speed as the two break every traffic law in San Francisco. We’re not sure if this is good driving or bad driving, but it’s entertaining driving.

8. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

Image Credit: United Artists.

The James Bond film franchise has plenty of car chases, but this one is my all-time favorite. The best part of the chase is the famous corkscrew jump over a waterway in the AMC Hornet X. The craziest thing about this scene is that it was shot in one take, which is impressive given the danger involved in this stunt.

9. The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

I’m lumping two scenes into one here. First is the iconic scene where Vin Diesel and Paul Walker chase down assassins on motorbikes through South Los Angeles. Second, the final drag race between the Toyota Supra and the Dodge Charger by the railroad track is one of the cooler chase scenes of the past 20 years.

10. Bullitt (1968)

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Steve McQueen’s coolness comes out as he meticulously stalks the bad guys through the streets of San Francisco. The iconic scene contains no music and relies on the natural sound of a roaring engine and screeching tires to provide tension. Stuntman Bill Hickman is on fire, and his performance set the standards for stunt driving in future films.

11. Ronin (1998)

Image Credit: MGM Distribution Co.

The culminating scene of this Robert De Niro flick is highly praised for its car chases. There are rumors that 300 stunt drivers going up to 120 miles per hour brought it to life, but those have not been substantiated. Director John Frankenheimer was a former race car driver, so he knew how to film an authentic car chase. There might not be any crazy stunts, but the scene’s authenticity holds true today.

12. Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)

Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Nicholas Cage takes a Shelby Ford Mustang named “Eleanor” out for a joyride as he tries to make it the final steal in a major car heist. He leads the police on a chase around the city before he jumps a bridge by flooring the accelerator over the ramp of a crashed tow truck. How amazing is that?

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.


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